After the men’s softball eliminators over the weekend that saw Wells, Gatalamotho and Police, qualify for the Selebi-Phikwe Extravaganza, some teams have bemoaned poor quality officiating at games.
BMC coach, Romeo Segone told Mmegi Sport that some umpire’s decisions were biased. “They take sides; their decisions are never neutral and they always cost us games,” he said. Segone also said the umpires lacked proper training, which is why they made mistakes. “It would be better if they were taken for intensive training so that they can be equipped with proper umpiring skills,” he said. Segone, whose team marginally lost 3-2 to Gatalamotho in a decisive game, was quick to point out that umpire decisions affected their timing during the game.
“Our players lose timing as a result of these decisions and in the end our performance decline throughout the game,” he said. Another coach Phetolo Marabu, whose team Gatalamotho qualified for the extravaganza said they have been complaining about umpiring for a long time now.
“I can’t remember the last time we hosted a clinic to equip our umpires with the right skills,” he said. Marabu added that the Botswana Softball Association (BSA) should invite the best umpires from neighbouring countries like South Africa to train locals. “Our local umpires repeat the same mistakes every game and I don’t see them growing and going anywhere,” he argued.
BSA marketing and public relations officer, Kelebogile Seitei said the teams’ complaints were clouded by emotions. “Softball is a very emotional game, obviously some losing teams will feel that umpires cheated them,” she said.
Seitei also said the umpire issue has always been there and it was derived from the fact that BSA recruit umpires from the same local teams. “Just because umpires come from certain teams, there is always that feeling which alleges favoritism but we cannot dismiss umpires based on where they come from,” she said.
Seitei added that BSA always fields highly ranked local umpires in all games especially the big ones. She said local umpires like Abel Mataboge have the necessary skills and have received proper training.